The Papers of James Madison project, housed at the University of Virginia, was established in 1956 to publish annotated volumes of the correspondence and writings of James Madison, the Virginia statesman most often remembered for his public service as "Father of the Constitution" and as fourth president of the United States.
The published volumes provide accurate texts of Madison's incoming and outgoing correspondence, informative notes on textual and subject matters, and comprehensive indexes. They are incomparably rich sources for students of Madison's life and valuable research tools for those interested in the general history of the period in which Madison lived (1751-1836).
The project has collected more than 27,000 copies of documents related to Madison's life, including letters, essays, notes, diaries, account books, ledgers, wills, legal papers, and inventories. The project serves the public by translating into print these decaying and often nearly illegible manuscripts, thereby preserving them for future generations and making them easier to use. The published volumes also make the contents of Madison-related documents—the originals of which are housed in some 250 archives worldwide—easily accessible to libraries and interested individuals anywhere books travel.
The Presidential Series, covering the years 1809 to early 1817, centers largely on Madison's record as commander-in-chief during the War of 1812, the first full-scale conflict to be waged under the U.S. Constitution of 1787. Madison's correspondence as president deals with a particularly wide range of concerns—national politics, international diplomacy and war, Indian affairs, the construction of the nation's capital, even petitions from ordinary citizens for charity and mercy—to which Madison responded.